The grim phenomenon of acid attacks - passers-by being sprayed with concentrated sulphuric acid, which often leaves them with disfiguring burns - has been in the news recently, and to help its readers understand how to react to this kind of incident, Mail Online has compiled a helpful video. This, it proudly tells us, is a Mail Online “original” - it is entirely of their own making. So what does it teach us?
What's so f***ing wrong with a bit of race stereotyping, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
Well, after the suitably attention-grabbing title “Would YOU be able to save a victim of an acid attack? As the scourge of 'face-melter' assaults soars, we reveal the best ways to help a casualty”, readers are told “Reports of acid attacks are on the rise in the UK and around the globe … Victims need to be doused in large amounts of water for at least 20 minutes … Powder acid can be brushed off by the victim but liquid needs copious water … It's important not to physically touch a victim and risk injury yourself”.
And while you’re digesting that, don’t forget “The startling rise of terrifying acid attacks has shocked the nation … It was recently revealed that two acid attacks are carried out every day in Britain alone - including cases of schoolchildren using corrosive liquids as weapons in the playground - and police have warned of an emerging link between the devastating strikes and gang violence”. Then comes the video.
The victim is a white woman. The attacker brandishes a plastic bottle, which presumably contains the acid. The attacker is male, and appears not to be stealing anything, just spraying the contents of his bottle over the victim. And the attacker is not white. He is a black Briton. And the facial hair suggests he may also be a Scary Muslim (tm).
But the Mail wants its readers to know that acid attacks are carried out by ethnic minority groups against white Brits. Sadly for this convenient stereotyping, the reality is often different - for instance, in June, “two Muslim cousins in east London were victims of an acid attack, which police are now treating as a hate crime. Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan were attacked while sitting in a car at traffic lights and both suffered severe burns”.
Also, “On Wednesday 5 July a woman from Leicester who had poured sulphuric acid on her partner as he slept was ordered to pay him £19,300 in compensation”. Moreover, although “Dr Simon Harding, a senior lecturer in criminology at Middlesex University, described the police figures [on acid attacks] as ‘genuinely scary’ … He said that in the UK the majority of attacks were men against men”.
Plus most attacks are not just opportunist attempts to inflict harm: “DCI Mike West, the Met lead for corrosive-based crime … said that from 1 January to 31 December 2016 there were 455 crimes in London where a corrosive substance was used or threatened to be used. He said that the majority - 60% of cases - were assaults, and a quarter involved acid or another chemical being used in street robbery”.
The Mail’s video is clearly aimed at their target readership. Sadly, it also reinforces stereotypes and prejudices. No change there, then.